Waste-Derived Low-Cost Mycelium Nanopapers with Tunable Mechanical and Surface Properties

Mitchell Jones, Kathrin Weiland, Marina Kujundzic, Johannes Theiner, Hanspeter Kählig, Eero Kontturi, Sabu John, Alexander Bismarck, Andreas Mautner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
168 Downloads (Pure)


Mycelium, the vegetative growth of filamentous fungi, has attracted increasing commercial and academic interest in recent years because of its ability to upcycle agricultural and industrial wastes into low-cost, sustainable composite materials. However, mycelium composites typically exhibit foam-like mechanical properties, primarily originating from their weak organic filler constituents. Fungal growth can be alternatively utilized as a low-cost method for on-demand generation of natural nanofibrils, such as chitin and chitosan, which can be grown and isolated from liquid wastes and byproducts in the form of fungal microfilaments. This study characterized polymer extracts and nanopapers produced from a common mushroom reference and various species of fungal mycelium grown on sugarcane byproduct molasses. Polymer yields of ∼10-26% were achieved, which are comparable to those of crustacean-derived chitin, and the nanopapers produced exhibited much higher tensile strengths than the existing mycelium materials, with values of up to ∼25 MPa (mycelium) and ∼98 MPa (mushroom), in addition to useful hydrophobic surface properties resulting from the presence of organic lipid residues in the nanopapers. HCl or H2O2 treatments were used to remove these impurities facilitating tuning of mechanical, thermal, and surface properties of the nanopapers produced. This potentially enables their use in a wide range of applications including coatings, membranes, packaging, and paper.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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